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Accidents in the field and on the roadAccidents in the field and on the road

Between the Fencerows: A deer collided with my wife’s minivan, then a hidden utility pole totaled a draper head.

Kyle Stackhouse

October 20, 2023

3 Min Read
Broken Draper Head on combine
Kyle Stackhouse

This week seems to have the same weather pattern as last week, Harvest hard for three days, then a rainy day on Thursday. In last week’s blog, there were a few details I left out. I was waiting for the dust to settle. Despite having a good week, we had a couple of incidents. Nobody was hurt, and honestly, both accidents were out of our control.

Last Monday my in-field supper took quite a journey. It took an hour and a half from my house to the farm to the semi driver to grain cart driver to the combine I was driving. So Tuesday Rachael decided to bring my meal eight miles directly to the field. It was a nice gesture. She rode in the combine for a while and then left about dusk. On her way home, a deer targeted her van and smashed the side. She was not happy! If the startled buck hadn’t gotten up and hobbled away after a few minutes, she probably would have strapped it on top of the van and brought it home!

Damage to the Nissan was extensive. Despite no airbag deployment, insurance deemed it a total loss. We are now searching for a replacement vehicle, and the $32 a day allowance for a rental doesn’t get us anything close to replacing a minivan.

Then on Wednesday, dad was finishing up the last pass of beans along the road with the draper head when he caught a cut off electric pole that had been left there by the utility company when they upgraded the line. The pole was 2-3 feet on the field side of the new poles and was sticking up about a foot. It was also halfway between the new poles where you would never expect to find it. (We narrowly missed hitting it this spring as beans were planted only 6” away.)

The breakaway on the draper did what it was supposed to, and the spring suspension did everything it could, but it wasn’t enough. The right side of the cutter bar pushed back about four inches, the support under the wing bowed upward about six inches, the cutter bar frame pushed up about an inch where the support hooks in, and the center draper dropped down after the breakaway activated.

After the dealer inspected the combine and head, the combine appeared to be unscathed, but the head was totaled.

A good deal of time on Thursday’s rainout was spent in vain trying to located a replacement head. At the end of the day, we looked at what we have left and where those fields are. We’re just going to have to run them with one head. It may take us a couple days longer, but we will try and harvest corn in the mornings to keep productivity high.

The utility is going to turn this over to their insurance and we are hopeful it will be taken care of. We will shop for a replacement after harvest. Unfortunately, this was our newer, better head that was damaged. It had been on the radar to update the other head. That will have to wait now.

About the Author(s)

Kyle Stackhouse


After graduating from Purdue University in 1999 with a degree in Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Kyle Stackhouse began farming in Plymouth, Ind., in northern Indiana. Kyle farms alongside his father Brad, not as an employee but as an owner who runs separate businesses in three counties in a 20-mile radius.  Kyle shares insight into day to day operations, current issues, and management of the family's mid-sized grain farm that specializes in NON-GMO and Identity Preserved crops.

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